“The most sublime act
is to set another before you.”
“No hon, it was Max. He was the first to call me Jac. Eventually everyone, even my mother began calling me Jac.”
“We’ve been married for three years and I am just now learning about Max’s visions? I have known you for twelve years, what else don’t I know about you?”
Smiling, Amanda kisses me. We are sitting on the couch, watching television when out of the blue Amanda is asking about the name Jac.
“Amanda, you knew about Max’s visions, but I don’t think you thought much about the idea of Max being able to see the future.”
“No, I suppose not. I vaguely remember you telling me about the crystal.”
“Not a crystal, a crystalline Orb. It gave Max… I don’t know what it gave Max. I know he could see things in a place he called the Everywhen or Everwhen. Something like that.”
Amanda is looking at me. She is about to ask something. I know what she is going to ask because Max told me about this moment. Max told me Amanda and I would never be apart. From the day I saved her from choking, we have known we would be together forever.
We went to the same college and graduated at the same time. Amanda teaches advanced English, and I am doing research in quantum physics. I am going to figure out how the Orb shows Max the Everywhen.
“Jac, did you help Max? Did you do something to help him? Is that how he knew to help Mark and Jamie?”
I avoid Amanda’s eyes. I do not want to answer.
“Jac, you can tell me. Did you help Max?”
“Yes, I helped Max.”
“How? How did you help?”
I am both ashamed and proud of what I did for my friend. I helped him understand the images and ease his pain. My friend Max gave me more than I ever thought about giving him. I would do it again if he asked.
I am ashamed because I used my affliction to help Max. I figured out the stinging I felt when Max was in the Everywhen was less on my bad side. When I sat with Max to my left, the numbness on my left side softened the stinging.
I am proud because I gave my friend something he needed. When I had nothing, no friends, no confidence…
Max gave me everything.
When I do not answer, Amanda, the love of my life answers her own question.
“You allowed Max to cause you pain, to lessen his pain, while he was having visions. You used your bad side to help Max.”
“How do you know that?”
Amanda is beaming. Radiant and beautiful. She refuses to answer. It dons on me when she raises an eyebrow.
“Max told you?”
Amanda is roaring with laughter.
“Of course, he did. He told me all about how you helped him. He told me about us and about this day. This conversation.”
“If you knew all this, why did you play dumb.”
“I wanted to see what you would say. Max was right.”
“Right about what?”
“Max told me that you and he talked all the time. That he helped you to own it. He was right about that, you own it. It never slows you down except with one person.”
“Oh? Who is that?”
“Yes, me. You never want to appear weak or call attention to your weak side when I am around. After all these years, you still want me to be proud of you for owning it.
“Jac, honey, helping Max was owning it. Helping Max brought us together. Even though I had to ask you on the first date, and I made the first move, and I had to propose, you own it with everyone but me.
“That is what I love about you.”
The story of Icky Waddles is ending here. When you have almost nothing, or think you have almost nothing, and you willingly give the little you do have for a friend, you own it.
If you want to read about Max, the Orb, and his journey to self-discovery, the short story collection, Max and the Dreamtime, begins with The Find.